A Quilted Palette Cleanser

Do you ever have those times where you want to sew, but you can’t decide what?

I was having one of those moments last week, pulling out fabric, deciding against it… when I remembered that I’d just watched a class on strip quilting during the Craftsy all-you-can-watch weekend. So without a real plan, I found myself making a mini quilt!

I have stacks of beautiful fat quarters bought while I lived in Japan, but once I started sewing clothes, the quilting cottons just gathered dust. I’m trying to consolidate my sewing into just one room, and using some of my stash seemed more fun than finding a place to fit it all!

Mini Quilt - Orange and Blue

The genesis of this little quilt was the navy and white puffer fish print that is in the top righthand corner. It’s actually the remnants of the first thing I ever sewed Jamie! Literally within a couple of weeks of starting to date him, I made him a little square throw pillow with those fish on the front, and the orange and white print to its right as the back. I remember that the first time I was introduced to his mom on Skype, Jamie waved the pillow around to show her!

Mini Quilt - Orange and Blue

Pufferfish (aka. Fugu in Japanese) were the official fish of the city where I first lived in Japan, so fugu were all over ours hopping centre, manhole covers, bus upholstery, and everywhere else!

Another nostalgic print I’ve been saving is the red and black guitar. You can probably tell, I was pretty obsessed with the beautiful “hand towel” cotton prints in Japan, and we had them hanging all over our apartment. Jamie was in a band at the time, so we had three of these guitars on the wall!

Mini Quilt - Orange and Blue

The rest of the fabrics are a real mishmash, but I remember shopping for every single one and they all make me smile! (For example, the bamboo print was a scrap of old kimono from the famous Nippori fabric district in Tokyo… and the orange floral was a free gift-with-bottled-water handkerchief!) It was really fun to put these sentimental fabrics together in a way that will get enjoyed every day!

Mini Quilt - Orange and Blue

That said, I get really bored doing actually quilting and binding, so I just used some yardage of fleece sweaterknit and called it finished!

The whole reason I’m condensing my sewing into *just* one room (oh the hardship!) is to make better use of our middle room upstairs. It was my sewing room, then it morphed into a very crowded storage room/guest bedroom… and now we’re trying to make it a nicer space for my brother-in-law who often visits! It’s a temple to nerd-dom, and I think the Japanese-themed quilt fits in well.

Mini Quilt - Orange and Blue

Above from top left, clockwise: 60 drawers full of dice for Dicemasters; a chair surrounded by shortboxes of comics and piles of video game controllers; a 60’s Japanese monster movie poster; shelves of comics and manga; and photos of our cats looking idiotic! 

There is a great word in Japanese, “natsukashii“, which is roughly translated to “nostalgic”… but it really means something more like “fond memories”. It’s the sort of word the Japanese use all the time, when retelling anecdotes with friends or when walking by a place you use to live, and it is one of the few words that exist in Japanese that I’ve never been able to find a parallel for in English! Making this quilt and reminiscing about fabrics was very natsukashii, and good for the soul.

Have you made a palette cleanser project recently? What old stashes of craft supplies do you have lying around that would be fun to revisit? 

17 thoughts on “A Quilted Palette Cleanser

  1. What a fun quilt! It sure makes me smile. I love that you skipped over the binding. It gives the quilt a cool look while also letting you skip a non-fun step. That sure sounds like a win in my book!


    1. The best sewing is the sewing you actually do, right? I tend to procrastinate steps I don’t like forever, so I was happy to just get this one done and have fun!


  2. This is beautiful! I always have project like this on hand – things that involve straight stitches and no fitting for times when I want to make something, but don’t have much brain power. A temple to nerd-dom is a fantastic phrase!


    1. Sewing something that doesn’t have to fit is such a nice change of pace sometimes, isn’t it? So. Relaxing.


  3. I love your quilt and totally get how sometimes you just need to sew something besides a garment! I’ve sewn pillowcases and tote bags and purses and a quilt or two for the same reason. It burns through the stash and makes me happy! Your lovely quilt makes me think it’s time for me to do another, something quick and fun!.


    1. Ooh, thank you for reminding my about pillowcases! I sewed some in quilting cotton for about bed, and it was a great way to use yardage quickly and then enjoy it every day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my god, is that Iggy from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure on the shelf??

    … ahem. More on topic, the quilt turned out gorgeous – I love how all the prints work together while being so unique! I have a few kimono prints I need to put to use, so perhaps I’ll follow your lead…


  5. hahaha “(oh the hardship)” giggles.
    those prints are phenomenal! bet the backing is super cuddly.

    i finally finished piecing a quilt top earlier this year as a garment palette cleanser. i don’t use quilt patterns (I don’t quilt much slash barely at all) so i have a few wip that have been lurking for years while awaiting final design decisions. it felt good to get one out of purgatory, but now it’s back to waiting while i figure out wtf to do for the backing, lol.


  6. What a great use for those precious souvenirs! The mix of prints and colors is really cool, and they’re great as a quilt!

    I actually have sewn a palette cleanser recently! I’ve had a lot going on lately–with life and sewing–and have generally felt worn out and stressed. All my sewing projects were taking some time (I was/am making multiples of the same pants pattern, so they’re all basically the same steps over and over, ad infinitum), and one of them was my first-ever pattern test. I had to stop working on it for a couple of days because I needed a notion to arrive, and I knew I didn’t want to pick up my trouser project(s) just yet. So I sewed the most mind-numbing thing I knew to sew: a baseball t-shirt for my husband! I had found a pair of raglan sleeves mistakenly folded up with some leftover jersey (which I had pulled for my test, just in case) and figured that was all the motivation I needed! A few hours later, he had a surprise t-shirt and I finally felt a much-needed sense of accomplishment. 🙂 Not bad for a boring t-shirt, lol!


  7. What a fun quilt! It’s nice to do something out of the norm every now and then — it churns the creative juices. It’s taken me years to learn that I don’t have to follow all the rules. I have used that technique myself — fleece backing and then flipped it over to the front and zig-zagged it down. Voila! Instant binding and no hemming. I used a walking foot for the “quilting” and did a channel stitch pattern about 6-8 inches apart. It was less for quilting and more for assuring the finished quilt did not wad up in the wash machine.


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